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Documents show mixed messages from BC Liberals over seismic upgrades

Last Updated Nov 3, 2016 at 12:13 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Back in September, Minister of Education Mike Bernier announced the province was moving away from a controversial 95 per cent capacity target, which a school needed to achieve in order to be approved for seismic upgrade funding.

BC Liberals move away from 95 per cent mark for school capacity targets

But a newly-uncovered internal government document suggests such a target never existed at all.

“There are no capacity targets for seismic upgrades,” writes Infrastructure Development Branch Executive Director Renee Mounteney on June 21. She goes on to explain that the 95 per cent threshold is “for large urban districts only, is a district-wide target, and applies only when looking for new schools or expansions. It is NOT a seismic target.”

The document is part of a package assembled by the opposition NDP from a freedom of information act request.

The package also includes a memo from the Greater Victoria School District sent in May, saying the Ministry had not approved seismic upgrades for Shoreline Community Middle School because of “concerns over the low utilization”.

“Clearly the government doesn’t know whether they’re coming or going on this, and that’s putting children at risk,” says NDP Leader John Horgan.

The 95 per cent enrollment figure played a major role in recent discussions of possible school closures in Vancouver and Richmond.

Horgan is accusing the BC Liberals of using enrollment requirements as an excuse for not delivering the funding they had promised in 2013. He points specifically to Shoreline School in Victoria, and Minnekhada Middle School in Port Coquitlam.

“My concern is that both of the schools that we’ve highlighted today are in NDP constituencies… apparently the kids in their region aren’t as important as the kids in Liberal regions,” Horgan adds.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to Minister Bernier’s office for comment, but have yet to receive a response.